Grid Connect in Kerala : Dr. Elizabeth Sherly, Director (i/c): Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala

IIITM-K is a premier institution of excellence in Science, Technology and Management that develops professionals and leaders of high calibre imbued with values of entrepreneurship, ethics, and social responsibility. IIITM-K has actively promoted higher education and industry across Kerala and beyond through its IT facilitated education programmes and services. Digital Learning, in conversation with Dr Elizabeth, elicits information on IITM-K and its role in establishment of Virtual Learning Environment through the Education Grid in Kerala.

IIITM-K assists the colleges in establishing systems and servers in the colleges that are necessary for the practice of TELT. Several capacity building programmes are conducted to promote TELT using NPTEL

What is the overall scenario of technology in Higher Education in Kerala?

In last several decades, due to the technology advancement and the availability of high bandwidth Internet connections, there is a tremendous transformation in the philosophy of education system worldwide. The classical approach of education, merely classroom learning and exam centric system as a pursuit of knowledge has undergone a significant change. However, it is obvious that the present education system consisting of the colleges, universities and institutions, governed by a system of government bodies such as the MHRD, UGC, AICTE, etc are only regulatory bodies, but hardly sufficient to touch upon quality of education.

Kerala government have taken several steps to increase the number of seats in the professional and higher education in general by opening large number of engineering and other colleges and courses. In Kerala there are now about 100 engineering colleges, which include government, semi-government and private colleges. But, providing quality education, or education with relevance to current and emerging trends in these institutions is a challenge. Lack of quality, experienced and motivated teachers, capacity to make adaptations to the curricula aligned with emerging trends and capacity to manage modern information and computational systems and services are a few to list.

Kerala Education Grid attempts to ?ll this void in our education system by providing such knowledge and computing resources, content development and maintenance and processes that help sustain quality in the education system.

Could you elaborate on the Education Grid?

Education Grid is a suite of systems and processes that provides for IT facilitated collaboration of institutions, universities and colleges for technology enhanced learning environment. Education Grid was developed by the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala (IIITM-K) for establishing Virtual Learning Environment and aims at enhancing quality of education through Technology Enhanced Learning in the colleges and universities.

What is the functioning structure and current status of the Education Grid Resource Centres?

The education grid project established key Resource Centres in premier institutions of Kerala and the Governing Council and the Apex Project Coordination Unit (APCU) had identified the following institutions as key Resource Centres (EGRCs); (i) Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala (IIITM-K) (ii) College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram (CET) (iii) Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) (iv) National Institute of Technology, Calicut (NIT-C) Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala (IIITM-K) besides being the Key Resource Centre (EGRC) was also the Education Grid Operational Centre (EGOC). The EGOC at IIITM-K provides the management, technology and coordination.

How is the Education Grid related to the National Programme for Technology Enhanced Learning?

The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) project by MHRD, a joint venture by seven Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Under this, NPTEL is ready with content in the form of full suites of about 40 Recorded Video Lectures (RVL) in each course for 110 courses that are taught in the undergraduate engineering curricula of the country. Further supplementary web content is available in 120 courses. The APCU of education grid and NPTEL experts in a meeting decided to share the best practices and experiences and avoid duplication of efforts.

IIITM-K besides hosting and helping in the distribution of NPTEL content also assists the colleges in establishing systems and servers in the colleges that are necessary for the practice of TELT. It conducts several capacity building programmes to promote TELT using NPTEL and other open content under its Education Grid Service.

What is the impact of the Education Grid that you foresee in the future?

By and large, it is important to note that the Education Grid project has immensely facilitated to the a large number of students and organisations, also rejuvenated the entire higher education system using technology enhanced web based e-learning and collaborative systems. This is the ?rst of its kind in India, that a framework for content development and collaborative knowledge sharing system with a unique pedagogy for Technology Enhanced Learning System as a supplementary for learning to improve the higher education is launched.

Despite the remarkable intellectuals and high marks that Indian students get, the institutions of higher education are facing many challenges from globalisation. To meet the demands of globalisation, the government must spend more on education, increase student access, yet also extend greater autonomy to universities. More funding combined with greater flexibility will strengthen the capability and secure talent within the country. India`s rigid regulation of education retards the intellectual growth of its institutions, diminishing their ability to compete with global talent. A ?exible system with the boosting of Technology enhanced Learning and Teaching model can definitely create a greater impact on quality education in India. We have miles to go, with the education grid project. This requires more intellectual and ?financial support. The possibility of continuing and running the project as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is under consideration. We invite parties of industry, academic and private or public organisation to jointly work for KEG.

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